I’ve been looking forward to testing this shoe. This definitely isn’t the first shoe by 361 Degrees that I’ve tested, and I actually tested the previous model, the Spire 3 last year, and I really like that shoe.
I was pleasantly surprised by its comfort, so when I learned that the goal for the Spire 4 was to deliver more comfort, ultimate comfort, I had to try it.
I’m on the everlasting hunt for the perfect marathon shoe, and I had classified the Spire 3 as a possible marathon shoe, so would the Spire 4 actually become my marathon shoe?
The Spire 4 weighs 232 grams in the women’s model and has a heel stack of 25 mm and a 16 mm forefoot stack, which gives it a 9 mm drop.
No wonder the Spire 4 clearly feels more plush compared to the Spire 3, because the Spire 3 had a 12 mm forefoot stack and a 21 mm heel stack, so that’s a 4 mm difference.
The drop has stayed the same. But surprisingly, the Spire 4 is 10 grams lighter than the Spire 3, despite the added stack height.
I’m surprised to see that there isn’t much padding in the tongue of the Spire 4, while there is more padding in the tongue of the Meraki 3.
I would have expected it the other way round since the Meraki 3 is marketed as a fast shoe, while the slogan for the Spire 4 is ultimate comfort.
There is more padding in the heel compared to the previous version, which I don’t mind since I like a good lockdown of my heel. I like the reflective details on the back that actually spell out Spire. It’s a nice little detail.
The Spire 4 now has the Morphit lacing system, just like the Meraki 3 and the Strata 3.
However, the system in the Strata 3 seems to be an earlier version where bands run across the tongue from one side to the other, rather than the bands running down the medial and lateral side of the foot and providing some stability.
And 20% of the insole is made of recycled materials. That’s nice, but this only seems to apply to the insole. It would be nice if they could make part of the shoe of recycled materials as well.
For some reason, the laces are really long. I think they are longer than in any other running shoe I’ve had. But obviously, that’s easy to fix by just switching out the laces if it really bothers you.
The midsole is a dual-layer midsole. There is the QU!KFOAM layer and the new EVA midsole material named QU!KSPRING+.
The QU!KFOAM was already part of the Spire 3, but the QU!KSPRING+ is new to the 4th edition of this shoe and is supposed to give the shoe more cushion and more responsiveness.
They also seem to have kept the carbon fibre plate that they call the Qu!k Spine. This is to provide stability, but it doesn’t work in the same way as other carbon fibre plates to help push you forward.
The outsole has remained the same compared to the previous version. The outsole is made out of blown rubber in the forefoot and carbon rubber in the heel. It does provide the right amount of traction on roads, and the shoe does alright on easy trails.
The upper of the Spire 4 seems to be a bit roomier than that of the Meraki 3. The Spire 4 promised to have a roomier vamp.
I like enough space in the toe box, but this is a little too much fabric. It loses its support and starts to fold over when I try to lace it tighter.
I have my regular running shoe size in both the Spire 4 and the Meraki 3, and they clearly have a different fit. They are the right length for me and the Meraki 3 also provides enough support with the more tightly knit upper and the additional padding in the tongue.
The upper of the Spire 4 doesn’t feel as secure, and there is definitely extra fabric. I’m not sure going down half a size would have been an option, maybe, or maybe that would have left me with too little space in the front.
Compared to the Spire 3, it is definitely a more plush feeling. Even just walking around it, it feels softer. I do find the midsole to be very comfortable.
The problem is the upper. The knit is too loose, and therefore the upper does not provide enough support and even starts to lose its shape on the medial side. I
t ruins the experience a little, and although the midsole is very comfortable, because of the upper, I’m not so sure I would classify this shoe as ultimate comfort, but it’s definitely comfortable.
The Spire 4 is a new neutral, high cushioned road running shoe from the brand 361 Degrees. While the brand has yet to be established in mainstream retail, they have gained quite a following in the running community.
While the last iteration had its share of rave reviews, how will the Spire 4 measure up? Let’s dive in.
The u-throat at the base of the tongue has a wing that kind of runs up to the first set of eyelets, and the toe-box has very similar ventilation holes to the Winflo. It’s not a bad thing at all, and I don’t necessarily think 361 Degrees was trying to mimic the design.
When coming up with a fast looking shoe, certain design elements are going to overlap from brand to brand. The handling of the stylized “3” logo was well executed, with the support welds running back into the heel counter.
The midsole coupling was done much like other running shoes that I’ve seen, but paradigms are there for a reason: they work. Also, the flecking of black against the microchip gray knit upper made a nice gradient that played well with the ventilation holes.
Overall, Spire 4 is a fast looking shoe. I think there are much better colorways of the shoe available than the microchip gray-based version.
Underfoot, there’s a lot of cushioning in the Spire 4. The transition from the heel strike to toe-off is fairly smooth. There’s a dual-density midsole, which is comprised of QuickSpring EVA and something they call QuickFoam, a hybrid EVA/PU compound.
The QuickFoam feels a touch firmer and seems like it serves to propel the foot forward faster. The two different durometers of the foam layers make for an interesting feel, and could likely make for a longer-lasting midsole, meaning more miles.
Regarding the upper, the knit upper initially felt comfortable. It’s not exactly a stretch-knit like other brands offer, but it feels seamless nonetheless. Their fit system in the Spire 4 is called Morphit, which appears to be designed to lock down the midfoot and cradle the heel.
The collar padding feels great, and gillie/eyelet combination lacing system does provide a snug fit once you figure out your lacing preference. Utilizing the top back eyelet was necessary for me, as the shoe ran a touch long.
Width-wise, the shoe felt decent. Half of a size down would have led to a narrow forefoot. There is a little bit of padding on the top of the tongue, though some prefer a thicker cushion up top.
Due to the engineered mesh and knit uppers, running shoes tend to have little break-in time needed before taking them on a real run. The Spire 4 was one that needed a little time to get comfortable with before going on a run with them.
Once they were broken in, they felt like decently comfortable performers. They are on the heavier side and lacked a bit of the kick I’m used to in similarly weighted shoes like the Brooks Ghost or the Saucony Triumph.
That being said, they seem to be a better shoe for a quicker pace if you’re a heel-striker. The weight is due to the polyurethane part of the midsole, and the rubber outsole.
The shoe also features a carbon fiber shank plate under the mid-foot, which appears to account for the shoe’s torsional stability, rather than propulsion.
Not that there’s a complete lack of forward-leaning engineering in the Spire 4, but as a mid-foot striker, it may have been lost on me due to my gait.
During my runs, the upper kept my foot in place for the most part. The back collar was well padded and kept a snug fit while coupled with the Morphit lacing system, but my heel felt like it sat too low, leading to discomfort towards the end of a few of my runs.
On dry surfaces, the traction of the Spire 4 performed well, but on damp, wet sidewalks, I did feel the need to exercise more caution. I didn’t feel comfortable taking it out on any snow-covered paths like I have other road shoes, but to be fair, the ones that I’ve run in snow are probably outliers.
When all is said and done, the 361 Degrees Spire 4 is a fairly well-performing shoe. Seasoned runners that are looking for something new could find their sweet spot here. The unique feel of the Spire’s multiple density midsole may be reason enough to give them a chance.
I am completely new to 361 Degrees brand, have never even talked to anyone about them, so when running in them and writing this review, I have/had absolutely no preconceptions.
My first impression was the look of the shoe. To be blunt, my new shoe looks boring to me. It is not trendy, funky, classic or retro, not specifically sporty or much of anything else either.
The colourway I have (Ebony/Glass) would look better without the coloured dots as those very dots make the shoe not stylish or neutral, but just bland. This is a look people won't remember. There are other colourways available too.
Women's shoe weighs 232gr which is not specifically light or heavy. The rather sleek design makes the shoe feel lighter than it really is.
The rest of the review will actually sound more or less like this: "This shoe is neither ___, nor ___" as it is a good shoe in all aspects, but nothing really stands out as exceptional bar from the tongue, which I will write more about later.
The drop tells you how much higher your heel is than your toes inside the shoe. In Spire 4, the drop is 9mm. Again, not specifically low or high but closer to high than low.
I normally run in high drops of 10 to 13mm (ASICS Nimbus, ASICS Kayano, Nike Pegasus etc.) and am trying to get used to slightly lower ones. The 9mm felt good. I didn't get any Achilles tendon pains that I often do when on lower than my usual drops.
Only in long uphills did I start feeling pain my Achilles tendon, but that might have to do with my running style or weakness in my body. Nevertheless, that is what I felt.
All the time when wearing these shoes, I had a feeling of being close to the ground, and I am really surprised to read that my heel was actually 27mm up off the ground. The shoe doesn't feel that high at all.
The upper is breathable and seamless on the outside. Now, I can also admit that the dotted design of the shoe is pretty good for camouflaging dirt spots.
According to 361 Degrees, the heel and mid-foot are to be supported. There is a fiberglass spine in the structure of the shoe to guide your foot and running forward. Running is smooth, and I feel the mid-foot structure is flexible, so it isn't completely fixed.
I don't feel any arch support and am not sure if there is any. Officially, I don't need extra support there or anywhere else in my shoe, so this is not a problem for me on distances like half marathons.
However, I would probably appreciate some more arch support for distances like marathons and longer when getting tired and losing form.
Cushioning under the entire foot feels like a firm gel/rubber layer that will keep its properties for a good while. The cushioning doesn't feel specifically thick and bouncy, but I guess that is exactly why I think it feels lighter and slicker than it really is. I do like this—clearly a cushioned shoe.
Laces are soft with a roundish diameter. The laces didn't come undone once on my runs even without double knots. The laces are attached to a sort of flat lace loops that run up/down on the side of your foot.
These are to "hug" your foot and provide more support (similar to Nike's Flywire system). However, I don't feel this support. On the contrary, I think on the arch side/inside of my foot, the shoe feels a bit loose.
Insoles & outsoles
I didn't get the feeling of the insole ever forming after my foot to really make it "mine". On the other side, it still gives me that fresh new-shoe-feel each time I wear it even after about 60 miles in them.
I mainly ran on tarmac, but there were times when I was on country roads with sand and rocks, and I noticed that the sole protected my feet surprisingly well from sharp rocks.
The grip was poor in sandy uphills, but this shoe is probably primarily not meant for those anyway. My longest run in these shoes was 14 miles.
The fit is very good for me. This is said to be a standard width, and my slightly narrow feet felt fine in them. I didn't get that "too wide" feeling that I often do in standard fit shoes.
I feel the heel cup being well-cushioned. And when running, I never felt it at all, which must be a good thing.
Tongue (my favorite)
The tongue is my single favourite part of the shoe. It is flexible and soft even in the thin edges.
If you only buy one running shoe, want it to last long, and happen to like the looks (and fit of course), this is a good investment despite its relatively high price for a basic shoe.
To summarize: 361 Degrees Spire 4 is a good basic running shoe that ticks all boxes and feels durable. However, nothing but the tongue makes me truly fall in love with it.
- Durable feel
- Soft tongue
- No feel of the rocks through the sole
- Overall good shoe in all aspects (bar the look)
Cons (difficult to find)
- Nothing made me go "wow"
- On the pricier side
- Boring look
- Poor grip on sandy uphills
I have never run in any shoes by 361 Degrees up until this point. I don’t recall ever seeing them out in the wild either. Yet, they are already on the 4th iteration of their Spire line.
What have I been missing out on?
There are a ton of running shoe brands nowadays, and you can count 361 Degrees among them. Here in the US, they aren’t very well-known, and I don’t think the look of the Spire 4s will do them any favors.
I’m going to be brutally honest. I think these shoes look like a pair of generic running shoes you would find in a discount shoe store. They look like a pair of off-brand Asics or Brooks.
Suffice it to say; I am not a huge fan of the design of these shoes. I think a lesser-known shoe company like 361 Degrees should have taken a bit more risk and gone with a more fun or unique design. After all, people shop with their eyes first.
However, if you are someone who doesn’t care much about how your shoes look or if you don’t like flashy or bright shoes, then these would fit the bill.
Fit & feel
Putting looks aside, how do these shoes feel when you put them on?
The first thing you will notice is how much padding they managed to cram into them. The tongue is padded, and the heel is liberally padded as well.
You would think that would be a good thing since it is meant to add comfort. However, it does so at the expense of the fit.
I often found myself having to over-tighten my shoes to avoid my heel-slipping. The excessive amount of padding makes the inside of the shoe feel smaller than it is.
The toe box is on the narrower side also adds to the fitment issues of the shoe. However, once you get the laces dialed in, they are fairly comfortable.
Moving on to the single biggest problem with this shoe - the weight.
As you can see in the picture below, a single size 10 shoe weighs 11.15 ounces. In the day and age where every shoe company is making featherweight shoes with weightless magic foam, 11.15 ounces is preposterously heavy.
For reference, I have 5 other pairs of shoes that I run in, and the heaviest of the bunch comes in right around 9 ounces. The Spire 4s are over 2 ounces heavier than my next heaviest pair.
But, does the weight of these shoes inhibit their performance?
Yes, the weight definitely affects the performance. However, it doesn’t affect it as much as I thought it would, which was a pleasant surprise.
I figured they would be solid on the road logging long, slow training miles as that is what they appear to be made for. After many road runs, both short and long, I can confirm that is what they are best at.
The longer and slower you go, the better they seem to perform. I tried some more up-tempo runs, and the weight clearly starts to play a factor the faster you go. As a result, I would not use them for racing.
To further prove my point, I even took them on the track for a speed workout. I found my hamstrings and glutes got a good workout by the end, almost as if I was wearing ankle weights.
Maybe they could be a warmup shoe. Start out in the Spire 4s and then switch to lighter, faster shoes before the race? I think that could work.
Aside from the road and track, what I wasn’t anticipating was just how good they worked off-road. I took them on runs in different terrain, and here is what I found.
Performance on rocky technical trails was the best of the off-road tests. Taking normal road running shoes into terrain like this will result in tired and sore feet after running.
The sharp rocks can also take their toll on ordinary shoes, which is why trail shoes are specifically designed for them. However, the Spire 4s did remarkably well.
I think the carbon fiber plate that runs throughout the midsole acted as a sort of rock plate. Either way, I ran for a solid hour, and afterward, my feet and legs were no worse for wear.
I would prefer to wear trail-specific shoes, but it is nice to know that these shoes can carry the load when needed.
Next up are dirt/sand trails. No real issues here. They performed well.
One thing you have to worry about with softer uneven surfaces like this is the potential of rolling an ankle. I felt like the Spire 4s had a nice stable ride that gave me more support than my other shoes.
On soft, wet grass trails, the traction was better than expected, and I experienced little to no slippage.
One big negative, though. Remember all that padding I talked about earlier?
Well, when it gets wet, it acts like a sponge and soaks up the water. This makes the shoes feel squishy and also adds more weight to already heavy shoes.
Durability & value
I’ve run a fair bit in these shoes by now, and they are holding up well. The upper and the sole show little to no signs of wear.
The rubber used on the sole is a bit harder compared to my other running shoes, so they should be more durable. Also, I think the addition of a carbon fiber plate (which can be seen in the picture below) will help these shoes keep their shape and bounce.
Having said that, I’m still not entirely sold on the idea of carbon fiber plates in shoes, as I don’t think the cost to benefit ratio is worth it. These shoes retail for over $150, and a rule-of-thumb I strive for is a minimum 3:1 mileage-to-cost ratio.
That means I would need to get around 450 miles for the Spire 4s to seem worth it to me. I think it is possible that they will last me that long since I plan on just using them for my long road runs from here on out, but I can’t help but think how much cheaper these shoes could have been.
- Good supportive training shoe
- Works well on multiple surfaces and terrains
- Durable and reliable
- Far too heavy
- Too much padding, fit can be tricky to lock down
- Limited to a training shoe
- Look is bland and generic
- Toe box is narrow
As far as road training shoes go, the Spire 4 is decent. The overall score gets a bump due to its performance on various terrain outside of the road, but the big downfall is the weight.
In my opinion, I think they should do away with the carbon fiber plate and use far less padding. This will drop the weight, provide a better fit, and even more importantly, it will drop the price.
The overall look and design of the shoe could use an overhaul as well. Add in some flashier colorways to attract new runners.
As of now, there isn’t anything about the Spire 4 that makes it a more appealing option when compared to other shoe brands. It performs fine, but the look, weight, and price are big negatives for me.
Good to know
- The 361 Degrees Spire 4 is an update to a series of high-performance neutral running shoes that offer a high level of comfort. It incorporates the improved QU!K spring technology that provides a softer and more responsive ride.
- This running companion now uses the Morphit construction in the midfoot and heel section, which delivers a more comfortable and secure fit. This internal structure offers more room in the forefoot area without compromising stability.
- Another exciting improvement that is integrated into the shoe is the Ortholite insole. This component offers better moisture management and breathability.
Several components affect the fit of the shoe. This includes the stretchable upper that conforms to the natural shape of the foot, providing a sock-like fit. The shoelaces are also used for a snug and personalized in-shoe feel.
Other elements that influence the fit of the shoe are the internal structure that offers a secure fit and the tongue that gives added comfort.
The QU!K Flex 4foot engineering is used in the outsole for enhanced ground contact. It provides great traction and acceleration.
For a natural and balanced toe-off, the flex grooves are strategically positioned to imitate the motion of the foot.
QU!K Spine is also included in the shoe for smooth transitions. QU!K Spine technology is a carbon fiber plate, which acts as stabilizing force during midstance as the foot prepares for propulsion. This durable material maintains the integrity of the midsole to delay breakdown.
The 361 Degrees Spire 4 features QU!K Spring technology. It is a new version of ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) foam, which is slightly softer and more responsive compared to the regular EVA foams. This material is proven to maintain the same level of comfort and energy return throughout the life of the shoe.
On top of the QU!K Spring midsole is the Ortholite insole. 361 Degrees worked with Ortholite to create an improved insole that raises the comfort level. The new Ortholite insole is made out of 30% recycled materials. It offers added breathability and better moisture management to prevent unwanted odor. The Ortholite sockliner is also featured in the Asics Gel Contend 5.
The 4th edition of the 361 Degrees Spire still uses the seamless ergonomic construction for a comfortable in-shoe feel. The breathable knitted upper is constructed with a roomier vamp to enhance ventilation. The knitted fabric is a flexible material that keeps the foot dry for an extended period. The shoe also incorporates a soft lining that protects the foot from irritation.
For a supportive fit, the shoe utilizes an internal structure called Morphit. This structure delivers a secure midfoot fit to prevent unnecessary movements, keeping the foot running in comfort. It provides more room in the forefoot section without sacrificing stability.
A pressure-free tongue is also featured in the shoe to eliminate stress on top of the foot. The tongue’s anatomical pattern and soft materials effectively reduce pressure on the ankle during dorsiflexion.
The lace-up closure is also used to provide a snug and personalized fit.